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The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) issued a strong warning against smoking, emphasizing its link to cancer. During a press briefing in Abuja, NTCA chairman Akinbode Oluwafemi emphasized the importance of implementing the Graphic Health Warnings policy on tobacco products, which has proven to be effective in curbing tobacco use and its associated harms.

Tragically, tobacco use has already claimed the lives of over eight million people annually, and if current trends persist, this number is expected to rise significantly in the future. These measures are in accordance with Article 11 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) and our local laws, specifically Section 20 of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015 (NTC Act).

The NTCA highlighted the significance of graphic health warnings, like the images contrasting healthy and diseased lungs of a smoker, which were issued on June 22, 2021, and expired on June 22, 2023. These warnings, approved by the Federal Ministry of Health, depict the harsh reality of tobacco use, such as mouth cancer caused by smoking.

Under the NTC Act, it is the responsibility of tobacco product manufacturers, importers, and distributors to ensure their products carry full-colored graphic health warnings, covering 50% of the principal display area. The NTCA urged its members in the Federal Capital Territory, Ebonyi, Kano, and Lagos states to closely monitor compliance with the second phase of these warnings.

Apart from the health benefits, implementing graphic health warnings can also reduce the economic burden associated with tobacco use. Therefore, Akinbode called upon the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Nigeria Customs Service, and the Federal Ministry of Health to swiftly implement the graphic health warnings on all tobacco products.

It is evident that the NTCA’s efforts to raise awareness about the hazards of smoking are commendable, and the implementation of graphic health warnings is a crucial step toward protecting the health of Nigerians and curbing tobacco-related illnesses.

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